How to talk hot tech at a library conference – BigWig style.


How can we talk about the newest web tools and ideas at library conferences when papers need to be submitted months in advance?

In Australia, the cities of Sydney and Melbourne take it in turns to host the hottest library tech conference – one year it’s Information Online in Sydney , the next it’s the VALA conference in Melbourne. Abstracts for VALA 2008 were submitted in May this year. Successful papers need to be complete by September – 5 full months before the conference is held. This is typical for a conference, but it stops people discussing hot new tools and ideas.

Dog in big wig

Untitled uploaded to on February 26, 2007 by mms0131

This Saturday 23 June, a mob of creative librarians are going to test an alternative to this model during the American Library Association conference. The Library and Information Technology Association’s interest group for blogs, wikis and social software (the BIGWIGS ) are holding a round table discussion of hot new tools that may have a use for libraries. They hope this will be informal and speakers will learn from participants.

Each speaker has prepared a presentation that is available on the Bigwig Social Software Showcase wiki. This includes screencasts and videos. Everyone is welcome to comment on each page of the wiki. It’s a great resource for librarians world-wide who want to be up to date. Topics covered are:

Afrotto – IMG_2517 uploaded to on April 18, 2006 by jeroen020


As noted by Jay Datema on the site ( 5 Days to a Social Software Showcase ), there are many social software tools set up so that you can follow the goings on.

While it’s great to be able to follow using all these tools, I’d love to be in the same room as the BIGWIGS on Saturday. So much shiny, shiny bright-sparking going on.

5 thoughts on “How to talk hot tech at a library conference – BigWig style.

  1. Hmmm…maybe we need a LINT’s Top Tech Trends in Libraries (gratuitously stolen from LITA and co). Though there was a similar sort of session at the last VALA. Though it was more some demoing at a remote location with web and skype. There were intros to flickr and a few other things. Would be nice to expand it into something more interactive, not to mention allowing the folk at home to participate in the live session. I like the idea of a panel to discuss trends too.

  2. Just book a room somewhere with wireless and maybe a projector/screen and chat about it all ?….sounds good. Most of the Thali will be at VALA I think….we could all present one trend each….or even ask everyone who turned up to bring their favourite tool – kind of a tech tools potluck dinner….

    Given that most of the presenters referred to their presentaions, when they worked on them, as “subversion” in their twitter stream, I suspect this is a bit of a coup…and a fine one at that. Maybe it’s the start of a trend at some library conferences where people say “you don’t want a session like this at your conference – that’s OK, we’ll do something ourselves while the crowds are here”. Better if we all work together..but still…..

  3. After attending the last VALA & Online this year, I couldn’t agree more – it would be great to have an opportunity at these big conferences to do something more interactive! The VALA Top Tech Trends session was kinda interesting, but none of the “trends” was new or bright n shiny to me…however a lot of it _was_ new to the delegates sitting around me, which was a surprise.

    Wouldn’t it be great if the Trade Exhibition space at these conferences could incorporate a “tech playspace” or “tech cafe” (with the wireless access etc that Kathryn suggests) that could act as a focal point for demos, discussion, exchange of ideas and experimentation? Add some comfy chairs and good coffee, & you’d have to drag delegates away!

  4. KS, which of the ‘top trends’ WAS new to the people around you at the conference? I am not as deeply into the social software as Kathryn, but I consider myself more or less up to speed. I noticed last week that our State library is running training on blogs, wikis and rss feeds, and I thought that even at that level a lot must still be new to people???

  5. I can’t remember them all, but things like wikis, Flickr and were definitely new & people were scribbling down URLs…and Second Life, of course! And the whole session was done through Skype, which seemed to be unknown to most people…

    Now, a year later, what I’m noticing is that blogs, wikis, rss etc are no longer unknown as “concepts” – people have heard about them in conference papers etc – but they still feel uncomfortable with actually using the tools themselves and that’s where the training need is….our local ALIA group has been running regular hands-on workshops on Web 2.0 tools this year and we have had to run multiple repeat sessions on blogs and wikis. The attendees now know what a blog or wiki is – they are at the next stage of wanting to try it out and get some practical experience!!

What do you think? Let us know.